Yelp is so much more than just a review site. It shows actual consumer experiences, helps people discover local businesses and allows these same businesses to engage with potential clients. As one of the most visited sites in the country, with close to one hundred million monthly unique website visitors and another 38 million monthly mobile app users, Yelp is an important tool for small businesses to incorporate into their digital marketing strategy. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know on how to best leverage Yelp as a small business owner. In addition, check out our Yelp Reviews Management eBook.
How Customers Use Yelp in the Purchase Journey
Something that makes Yelp standout from other online platforms is that its users have a high intent to spend money. Survey Monkey released a study in 2019 revealing that 97% of consumers make a purchase with a local business after searching on Yelp. To understand why, it’s helpful to look at how Yelp fits into the customer journey.
As you know, the customer journey starts with a need, and today that often takes the form of a question. The person has decided that they’re ready to spend money — for example, they’re ready to renovate their home, but they’re not sure which contractor meets their needs. First, they conduct a general search to find a contractor using unbranded terms. This means that they don’t already have a vendor in mind and are using general search terms like “a plumber”, “an HVAC installer”, etc. 85% of searches on Yelp are unbranded, across all industries. When someone is searching on Yelp, they have no established brand loyalty, meaning you have an opportunity to convert them to your business.
How Consumers Use Yelp to Make Purchasing Decisions After a general search, the customer identifies their best options depending on what’s important to them. For instance, some people comb through Yelp reviews, other customers assess pictures of the contractor’s work, while others are more concerned about proximity. Once they’ve made their choice, the customer can then reach out to the business directly from the Yelp business listing. People can go through the entire customer journey — from discovery to conversion — all from the Yelp platform. By utilizing Yelp small business marketing tools, you help ensure that your business is part of the conversation.
The Overall Reach of a Yelp Marketing Strategy
The power of a Yelp marketing strategy extends beyond the website and app. Yelp is integrated into Apple products, as well as Bing, Yahoo and other local search browsers. Additionally, many car dashboards driving off the lot today have Yelp preprogrammed into them. So whether people are asking Siri for a local plumber or searching on their car dashboard for a nearby happy hour, they might be Yelp users without even knowing it. Furthermore, Yelp is the number one local business directory in the country. This is important since when it comes to home services, consumers are searching for local businesses. Regardless of what type of customers you’re looking for, you’re going to be able to reach those goals at scale.
Aside: Benefits of Yelp Small Business Marketing
- Yelp.com and the Yelp app provides a platform where you can showcase your brand.
- Yelp gives you access to high spending intent consumers that have no existing brand loyalty.
- Yelp connects you to the millions of people searching for local businesses from their computers and on the go via their phones and their car dashboard.
Getting Started on Yelp
Now that we have an understanding of Yelp’s broad reach and how consumers interact with the platform, let’s dive into how you can leverage Yelp in your digital marketing plan.
Register Your Business
The first step to implement a Yelp marketing strategy is to type your business name into Yelp. If it doesn’t appear you will need to create a listing for your business.
- Go to the Yelp for Business Owners Page and enter your business details.
- Fill in your business name, contact information and business categories. The more specific you are, the better.
Aside: Registering is what allows you to manage your visibility and how consumers are viewing your business on Yelp. It’s completely free and it has a lot of benefits:
- Upload and manage your photos
- Update your business information
- Respond to messages, quotes and reviews
- Track your Yelp page traffic
Claim Your Business
Many times businesses have unclaimed listings on Yelp because a customer has left a review. If you do a search and your business pops up on Yelp, do the following to get control of the listing.
- Go to Yelp for Business Owners Page to claim your business and set up an account.
Aside: Pro Tip: Make sure to claim your business on Yelp. If left unclaimed, anyone can go in and change your listing profile. It opens the door to a potential customer finding bad information about your business and you losing the deal because they called a phone number that’s no longer in service or sent an email to an address no longer monitored.
Optimize Your Business Page
Now it’s time to optimize your profile by adding quality content. You want to make a good impression on everyone who visits your Yelp profile.
- Make sure your phone number, address, and website are correct.
- Add your service area (if applicable).
- Fill out the “About the business” section. This is a great opportunity to tell your story and Yelp users want to know about the business that they’re spending money in.
- Add high-quality photos that showcase your work.
A 2019 survey revealed that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Moreover, the same survey found that 91% of consumers are more likely to use a business after reading positive comments, while 82% are deterred by negative ones. This means that your business needs to have a great online review presence. As you know, the best way to get a good review is to provide excellent products and services through a great customer experience. After a job is nearing completion or already finished, ask your customers for feedback and make it super easy for them to find your Yelp listing:
- Add a link to your Yelp business listing to your email signature, your website and blog.
- Ask for reviews in your email newsletter.
- Let people in your social media networks know that you have a business profile on Yelp and encourage them to connect.
Be aware that a customer’s Yelp review is only as powerful as their profile. This means that a 5-star review as someone’s first review on Yelp will not be as visible as a 2-star review left by someone who has given hundreds of Yelp reviews. This is one of the most common misconceptions about Yelp and a source of frustration among business owners who don’t understand the why behind it. It’s to help safeguard against purchased reviews from fake accounts — both positive and negative if a competitor wants to try and bury your online reputation. It’s also important to generate a consistent flow of new reviews. Getting too many at once could be flagged as spam. Focus on providing a great experience and ask your customers for feedback. Doing so will result in the natural flow of quality reviews you need for your business.
Aside: Important! Quality reviews are the lifeblood of Yelp, therefore it’s vital that businesses don’t interfere with the natural flow of reviews. As outlined on the Yelp website:
- Don’t post your own reviews of your business or of competitors.
- Don’t pay (or offer freebies or discounts) in exchange for 5-star reviews.
- Don’t ask or hire anyone to write fake reviews of your business (such as friends, family, or third party vendors).
- Don’t pressure or pay people into altering or removing critical reviews.
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Responding to both positive and negative reviews shows visitors that you appreciate feedback and are actively communicating on Yelp. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring less positive comments. Remember, critical reviews can be an opportunity to build goodwill and trust. By engaging with these customers you have a valuable opportunity to learn about areas where you can improve your business. Constructively addressing concerns demonstrates that you care about your customers and studies show that the right response to a critical review can improve a customer’s impression of the overall experience.
Aside: Pro Tip An all-in-one marketing platform like the Surefire Local Marketing Platform makes it easy to generate and manage reviews from Yelp, Google, Facebook, and your website all in a single place.
Yelp Small Business Marketing Strategies
Yelp helps small businesses by providing them a way to be easily discovered in their local community, collect online reviews, and engage with potential customers. However, maintaining an active presence on Yelp goes beyond completing your business profile. Set aside 30 minutes each week to maintain your Yelp page. Make sure you keep your page relevant by responding to customers, sharing special deals, uploading new photos, and regularly posting updates. In addition to your profile, there are other opportunities to grow using Yelp small business marketing strategies and tools.
Cost Per Click Ads
These ads help businesses to catch the attention of the millions of consumers searching on Yelp. Ad delivery is based on a fully automated auction system and depends on several factors, including:
- The ad’s relevance to the user search
- The business category
- The business location and where the user is located
The goal is that a user is going to be seeing ad results that are most relevant to what they are looking for. The most common place where your ads are displayed in the Yelp platform is above the organic search results. This is important since 79% of Yelp visits are on mobile devices (smaller screen size means it takes longer to scroll down to the organic listings). Since ads show above the organic results, they’re more visible for people searching on mobile — particularly if they need to find a business or service provider immediately. Due to urgency, it’s less likely that these customers will take the time to scroll down to the organic search results. Cost per click ads can also be featured on competitor Yelp profiles, which is a great way to help guide potential customers to your profile if they’re not quite finding what they want on your competitor’s page.
As a business owner, you know that every single time that you communicate to your consumers it’s an opportunity to win a new lead. You want to make a phenomenal first impression. This is where Yelp’s enhanced profiles come into play.
The enhanced profile upgrades your current page and helps capture consumer attention using three key features:
- Photo placement — A photo slideshow feature allows you to control and arrange the order of your pictures so that your best photos are the first thing that a consumer sees when they land on your page.
- CTA Button — You can add a call-to-action button with customizable text to your enhanced profile. This provides an extra way to entice customers to complete a transaction while on your page — like calling you or requesting a quote.
- No Competitor Ads — When customers get to your profile, your page is their final destination. The only thing left for them to do is interact with your business in some capacity.
We hope this guide has helped you understand the role Yelp can play in your small business digital marketing strategy. We talked about how the broad reach of Yelp, combined with the high purchase intent of Yelp visitors, offers bottom-of-the-funnel marketing opportunities for your local business. Next, we covered how to claim your Yelp listing, optimize your profile, and manage reviews to effectively engage with potential clients. Lastly, we talked about different ways that you can leverage Yelp for your small business, including maintaining an active presence, cost per click ads, and enhanced profiles. Want to learn more? Contact Surefire Local for a complimentary analysis of your digital presence, including opportunities to leverage Yelp, and see how Surefire Local can help you attract customers, grow profits, and maximize efficiency.